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Hugh Grant loves the Mission Hills Resort Hainan; treehuggers don't
Like most mega-projects in China, Hainan's latest tourism draw, its huge golfing resort, is superlative- and controversy-laden
All eyes are on the Mission Hills Resort in Hainan as it gets closer to completion. The spectacular sprawl of immaculately manicured, emerald-green golf courses is the latest and most ambitious golfing project for Hainan Island, China's next officially sanctioned tourism hotspot. Currently, two of the 10 golf courses are open for business.
The Mission Hills group already own the world's largest golf facility, located in Shenzhen. Now, with the new gigantic Hainan property, China's mark on the golfing atlas will be further bolded, highlighted and underlined. Tenniel Chu, executive director of Mission Hills China, said in an interview with The Charlotte Observer that China's golfing industry is "still in its infancy" although there are currently 4 million golfers with at least 400 clubs catering to them. Chu expects China to have the largest golfing population in the world, surpassing the United States, by the year 2020. So it only makes sense that two of this year's big ticket tournaments will be held at the Hainan courses.
The Star Trophy and the Omega-sponsored World Cup will take place at the Mission Hills Resort Hainan. In particular, the pro-am Star Trophy is an event unique to Asia. Taking place on October 28-31, the celebrity tournament will pit movie stars like Hugh Grant and Matthew McConaughey against current golf professionals. The pros will be vying for the winner-takes-all US$1.28 million prize -- the largest sum of prize money in Asian golf history. Grant seems really excited about the prospect of getting his butt kicked by international title holders. He says in a taped message for the press: "Join me in China... for a golfing experience beyond your wildest dreams!"
Others however, are less enthused about the resort opening. Like Jonathon Watts from The Guardian. Watts reports that Hainan Island has always been a rare ecological haven in China, home to thousand year old tropical rainforests. But major property developments such as golf courses and resorts are threatening the pristine jungle.
Mission Hills is proud that they are one of the most eco-friendly golf courses in the world, seeing as they are built on volcanic rockland that would otherwise be deserted. But Watts spoke to local residents who complained of flooding for the past two years by water that runs off of plastic sheeting under the huge course as well as the felling of trees important to agriculture and livestock. We hope these are just teething problems that will be resolved once the resort is fully operational. After all, in the tug of war between golf and ecological conservation, Team Golf is the only side that is growing.
Mission Hills Resort Hainan
No.1 Mission Hills Boulevard, Haikou, Hainan, China, 571155, tel +86 898 6868 3888